6 charged in $3.2M Santa Monica art, Porsche theft

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SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) – Los Angeles County prosecutors have charged six people in the theft of $3.2 million worth of paintings, wine, jewelry and a Porsche from a Santa Monica home.

All six pleaded not guilty Friday to counts ranging from conspiracy to first-degree burglary and were ordered jailed on $10 million bail.

Prosecutors allege 43-year-old Darren Merager broke into financier Jeffrey Gundlach’s home while he was away on business in September and took paintings by artists like Jasper Johns and Richard Diebenkorn, and one especially valuable work by Piet Mondrian that spurred a million-dollar reward offer.

Prosecutors say Merager returned to steal the Porsche at the behest of 45-year-old Jay Jeffrey Nieto.

Merager’s 68-year-old mother Brenda Merager, 40-year-old Wilmer Cadiz, 29-year-old Wanis Wahba and his 26-year-old brother Ely Wahba are charged as accessories.

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